Study Guide: Victorious Love

Sunday May 2, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

God’s love is victorious! But perhaps not in the way that you’d expect. We often associate victory with our ability to control or defeat others but God’s victory encourages our freedom rather than squelches it. (We love discovering art that connects us to God in unique ways. Thank you to Dale Johnson for incorporating his art into this weekend's sermon.)

Extended Summary:

Greg reminded us that ever since “the Fall” human beings have had an impulse to want to be God. We often manifest this by our tendency to judge others and attempt to control others’ behavior. Of course, we don’t have the authority or the power to do either of these things, but we can project our desire to do so onto God. In fact, this is what happens in many of the ways God and other “gods” have been envisioned throughout history.

Many religions envision the superiority of their own god to be primarily one of power exercised through controlling the events that happen in this creation. We all tend to think that our God is “the biggest cosmic kid on the block”, so to speak. However, the vision of the true God revealed to us in Christ is very different!

Greg summarized the Apostle Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 1 this way:

Paul’s Criteria of Foolishness
If a conception of God’s power doesn’t look shamefully weak and foolish, it’s not the true biblical conception of power.

An example of how this looked in Jesus’ life is found in John 13:2-5. By the world’s standards, Jesus’ washing the feet of those who will betray him and deny him seems foolish and weak. But in fact, this is exactly how God uses power.

When things got even worse, Jesus’ concern wasn’t about losing control of the situation, but was about forgiving those who opposed him and humiliated him (Luke 23:34).

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. What are some ways you find yourself wanting control or change the behavior of others? Brainstorm together as a group and make a list.
  3. Think about some of the specific things on the list you’d like to change about others. What would “victory” look like if you had the authority and power to change people’s behavior?
  4. Do any of the answers to the question above affect how you view God? In other words, do you project your desire to control people in those ways on to God? Do you see God as having the same desires to change others as you do?
  5. How does God change us? Is it by controlling us or some other way? Be sure to include Greg’s summary of 1 Cor. 1 as you discuss this.